Monday, 27 March 2017

When cousins come to stay - Managing the multi dog household plus visitors

You might have noticed that I only talked about Freya (and Brian) last week in our big racing adventure as we ran 55miles over a weekend (in case you missed it). 

A big part of being able to take part in that race was Clare volunteering to look after Bronte and Farah - a pretty big challenge in itself. Since Farah was so poorly over the last couple of years putting them into kennels isn't really an option, and I needed someone who would understand their sign language.

Here's Clare's report on how the weekend went for her, with some handy tips for anyone who has canine family visiting over the Easter holidays. I am very grateful for all her hard work - having Farah sleep in the bedroom so it was easier to give her 6am heart drugs went above and beyond the call of duty.

Have a great week!


PS I'm still recovering, managed a slow Parkrun on Saturday but oh my blisters....

PPS  If you're worried about family dogs visiting over the Easter holidays, why not book a Skype consult to create the perfect plan or even a 1-2-1 session at home to make sure everything goes smoothly. Contact us here!

Hints and tips from Clare

Last weekend I had two of Morag’s dogs come to stay, Bronte and Farah. This was while Morag and Freya were away running 55 miles (yes…that’s right 55 miles).  While the dogs have met each other on a few occasions previously, Farah and Bronte have never stayed or mixed with my dogs for any reasonable length of time. This was going to be interesting and, as I suspected, hard work!

Meet the animals

Clare's dogs
·        Poppy (Cocker Spaniel, 6 years old, gets along with everyone)
·        Beano (Border Collie, 6 years, deaf blind, gets extremely over aroused with people/dogs)
·        Spencer (GSD, 4 years, fearful of people and other dogs, will run towards and bark)
·        Scout (BC, 2 years, deaf and over enthusiastic in every aspect of life!)

Morag’s Dogs
·        Farah (BC, 11 years, deaf)
·        Bronte (BC, 8 years, deaf partially sighted)

My other animals
·        Cats x 4
·        Chickens x 12
·        Goats x 2
·        Goose x 1
·        Ram x 1

What we did to make it work:

  • Pre-planning and instructions 
  • Management 
  • Make use of basic obedience training 
  • Observing body language and interrupting

Pre-planning and instructions
I like a list, it’s sad but true! Having a list of feeding times, medications requirements, how to walk them etc. made my life much easier. I didn’t have to guess or worry I wouldn’t remember something.  I needed to make sure Farah got her heart meds and painkillers at the right time! 

 The key to making sure I kept all dogs safe and happy was good management. I had a total of 5 areas I could safely have groups or individual dogs at any one time. Making use of baby gates or doors made it much easier to move dogs around the house or out to the toilet. Although these dogs have spent time outside together before, it’s often much more difficult for dogs to spend time together indoors together, where there is less space and more resources (food, beds, toys etc.) which could cause tension. 

 All the dogs have a good level of obedience, they respond to verbal cues or hand signals (other than Beano!) very well, this make my job of keeping them safe and happy so much easier. Asking for a wait at doorways, or to have leads put on, keeps them safe and excitement levels lower. Being able to recall them or stop on cue means I can more safely walk them as a group. 

Body language
Although much of their time spent with me this weekend was managed carefully to avoid difficult situations, the time the dogs did spent together (whether in a big group or smaller selected group) I was carefully observing the dogs the entire time. I watched for any signs of tension between dogs and immediately interrupted and redirected the dogs to diffuse a potentially difficult situation. 


How did it go?

While a weekend of looking after an extra two dogs was no walk in the park (get it?!!), thanks to good management, training and observing the dogs body language carefully I managed to keep all the dogs safe and returned them to their owner in the rightful condition :-)